The implementation of CAD/CAM systems in the metalworking industries
This thesis reports on a case survey of 15 UK metalworking companies and their experience of implementing an integrating technology - CAD/CAM. The thesis places this process of implementation in the organisational context of these companies by examining the ways in which the engineering/manufacturing interface is coordinated. This interface is important, because it is also critical to the effective implementation of such techniques as total quality management and simultaneous engineering. In order to develop an incisive analysis of these companies, a contingency approach to organisational analysis is developed around the idea of flows of information and materials and their interaction with the structure of the organisation in a process of structuration. This analysis is placed in the strategic context of the organisations' relationships to their environment through the notion of a production strategy. Models of the process of implementation are then reviewed, and a recursive model of implementation as organisational changing is developed which emphasises the processes of organisational learning. The management of the engineering design process has been little examined, in comparison to the management of manufacturing, and research and development. This thesis develops an analysis of the management of the entire production process from the conception of the product right through to its delivery to the customer in these 15 firms. It then goes on to examine the recent organisational changes in the engineering and manufacturing functions before examining the implementation process in detail. Finally, the basis of organisational integration from both a technological and organisational perspective is analysed, which provides the basis for some more general propositions on the development of production management over the next decade.